Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Does a Dog Know More English than Capello?

Yesterday, Fabio Capello claimed he only needed to know 100 words of English to do his job. (To be fair, it was a flippant remark, but I'm running with it.)

This BBC piece lists the 100 most common words in the English language and notes that you wouldn't be able to do much with them - it's about the vocabulary of a two year old. (Presumably Capello's vocabulary is actually larger than 100 words anyway and certainly not confined to these; you'd expect him to know some football-related terms.)

More interesting, however, is this feature, on a dog that reportedly understands over 1000 words. Granted, the dog's vocabulary is passive, rather than active (i.e. it wouldn't use the terms itself), but that suggests that Capello really ought to be able to master more than 100. For his sake, I hope he can...

EDIT: Some Blogger bug seems to be preventing me from linking, so for now just copy and paste the URLs.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teaching in a New Environment

Moving from Oxford to Stirling has involved quite a change in teaching styles. One observation made in our Learning and Teaching Review last week is that students here are never required to submit work solely for formative assessment. Every essay that submit could count towards their degree. ('Could' because for most modules there's an optional second essay, which counts only if a higher grade than the first.)

I'm still coming to terms with the change, but there's a thread here on The Philosophy Smoker about the shift from the UK - where most universities seem, like Stirling, to go for something like two lectures and one seminar a week - to US style classes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Journal Rankings Compiled

I'm often looking up reports on journals in deciding where to submit papers, particularly when I stray from specialist political philosophy journals into more general venues. With that in mind, I thought it would be helpful - to me at least, but hopefully to others too - to compile some useful resources.

Brian Leiter had a survey of the journals, including general ones, publishing the best work in moral and political philosophy. Results here:
1 Ethics
2 Philosophy & Public Affairs
3 Phil. Review
4 J. Phil.
5 Journal of Political Philosophy
6 Nous
7 Philosophy & Phenomenological Research
8 Utilitas
9 Mind
10 Phil. Studies
(Pleased to see I've already published in two of those!)

A survey on Thom Brooks' blog - which I reported on here - produced the following ranking (I think it should be noted that 'general' journals appeared to systematically outperform 'specialist' ones):
1 J. Phil.
2 Phil. Review
3= Philosophy & Phenomenological Research
3= Nous
5 Mind
6 Ethics
7 Phil. Studies
8= Philosophy & Public Affairs
8= Synthese
10 Analysis

Finally, but by no means least, Brian Weatherson reports the results of a survey here. He doesn't provide a ranking, partly because a range of different measures are given, but going by the mean (avg) ranking here's how some of the above perform:
1 Phil. Review - 8.9
2 Mind - 8.7
3= J. Phil. - 8.6
3= Nous - 8.6
5 Ethics - 8.5
6 Philosophy & Public Affairs - 8.3
7 Philosophy & Phenomenological Research - 8.2
8 Phil. Studies - 7.3
9 Journal of Political Philosophy - 6.2
10 Utilitas - 5.8

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Banning Migrant Chefs?

This BBC article opens with the claim that:
"Migrants from outside the European Economic Area will no longer be allowed to work in the UK as chefs in takeaway restaurants, the government has said."

It's hard to be sure exactly what is the case, when one has one's reasons to doubt one's only source, but it seems like this is a misleading claim to me. It seems that the government are tightening up what's necessary for non-EEA immigrants to enter the country. Thus, those from outside the EEA won't be able to immigrate in order to work as chefs in takeaways (at least, unless they're well-paid graduates: the scheme seems to allow top chefs). There's no implication that those already in the country will be prohibited from working in takeaways - it's either alarmism or shoddy journalism to suggest that would be the case...

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Meanings of Frankenstein

Just a quick link to an interesting BBC feature on Frankenstein, suggesting ten readings/interpretations of Shelley's novel, not all of which had previously occurred to me. I found it quite informative.

The Relevance of Philosophy

Just a plug for two interesting threads over at Leiter Reports:

First, famous people with philosophy degrees. (See also the list compiled here - h/t Rachele.) Maybe not wholly reliable, but a useful resource now I'm Careers Liaison Officer for Philosophy in Stirling.

Second, this discussion of the importance of the history of philosophy, which looks like it will generate an interesting debate.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Housing Dementia Patients

The second time I've seen Stirling University in the news in just a few days: scientists have been working out how best to design living spaces for dementia patients. Details include colour-coding, lighting, and glass-fronted cupboards. They even sought to include easy internet access, on the basis that the elderly of tomorrow will be computer literate.

Of course, perhaps more worthwhile would be developing ways of combating dementia and ageing more generally - a common theme for Colin Farrelly.